We abide in Jesus by abiding in His word (John 8:31). Over the centuries, many Christians have found God’s blessing in setting aside some time each day to meet with Jesus in the Bible and to pray, and we would definitely encourage you to give it a go! There is lots of flexibility about how to do this – after all, God has made us all differently – but here are some tips and ideas you might like to try out. Keep experimenting until you find something that works for you!
7 tips and ideas for quiet time
1. Meditate on the Bible
We can look at any part of the Bible, because all the Scriptures are designed to lead us to Jesus (John 5:39). We might meditate on just a verse or two, and delight in the deeper and richer treasures God unfolds to us from familiar passages (2 Timothy 2:7); or we might prefer to read longer passages to see how the whole sweep of God’s revelation teaches us about Jesus (Luke 24:27, 44-47). There are free resources on the internet that can help us get started. For example, many Christians have benefitted from Oswald Chambers’ daily meditations in “My Utmost for His Highest,” available here. Many Christians also have really enjoyed “For the Love of God,” where Don Carson guides us through the Bible in one or two years, available here.
2. Choose a place
There are no special “holy places” we must go to meet with God, because Christians “worship in Spirit and Truth” (John 4:24). This means that we can have our “Quiet Times” anywhere: even on our way to work (Acts 8:28) – though this may be easier if we download a Bible onto an e-reader or smart phone! However, for our benefit, it is spiritually safest to find a private place where we will not be tempted to “show off” to other people (Matthew 6:6). Privacy will also help us to be real with God in our prayers – it’s wrong to get angry with God; but when we do, it’s wrong not to talk to Him about it (1 Samuel 1:15)! Privacy also helps us avoid distractions. Jesus was so busy that He had to make a special effort to get away from people in order to pray (Matthew 14:23; Luke 5:16). Charles Wesley’s mother used to put an apron over her head to show her family she was spending a few minutes with God and didn’t want any interruptions!
3. Make some time
There are no “holy times” either; the best time will depend a lot on your personal routine in life… or lack of one! Daniel prayed regularly three times a day (Daniel 6:10); and David prayed in the mornings (Psalm 5:3). On the other hand, Jesus was so busy that He had to make time specially whenever He had the chance (Mark 6:46)! Some of us are “morning people,” others are “evening people”; try to make a regular time when you can be “clear minded and self-controlled so you can pray” (1 Peter 4:7).
4. Feed yourself with God’s word
God’s word is our “daily bread” (Matthew 4:4), so it’s a good habit to “feed” on it every day (1 Peter 2:2)! Again, our life circumstances will affect how much time we can spend. A busy single-parent may struggle to find 10 minutes a day, but students or retired Christians might be able to set aside an hour a day – or even more! Our prayers can be long (Luke 6:12) or short (Matthew 6:7), and there are no upper or lower limits on how much time to spend in personal Bible reading either.
5. Feel free to be creative
Even though it’s often called a “Quiet Time,” it doesn’t have to be totally “quiet”! The Book of Psalms shows us that personal prayers may be set to music and sung, so feel free to be creative and even write out your own songs or poems to God if you would like. You might also like to include Christian music in your daily devotional time – music is especially effective at helping us to memorise Bible verses, so that we can hide God’s word in our heart (Psalm 119:11).
6. Maintain a personal journal
Many Christians find it helpful to write down prayer requests and answers in a personal “journal,” to help them be “watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).
7. Keep meeting other Christians
The advance of technology means that Christians today have more opportunities than ever before to be selfish with God’s word. Whatever you do, don’t let your “Quiet Time” replace time with other Christians. It is “together with all the saints” that God promises us power “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18). Be sure to keep meeting in a good church, where you can encourage other Christians with the things that God has been teaching you (Hebrews 3:13; 10:25).
A practical example
Personally, as someone who likes structure, my routine for the past few years has been to begin each day by reciting Psalm 32:1-2, and sometime in the day I pray Psalm 86:11-13 before following the “M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan.” Then, before going to bed at night, I give thanks for the good things that have happened in the day, and I have a list of people on my iPhone to pray for daily, and a church “prayer diary” with suggestions for intercession and thanksgiving.